ATLANTA — A game that began with four lead changes in the first half, ended in a convincing 64-44 win for North Carolina A&T over Alcorn State in the 2019 Celebration Bowl on Saturday.
For the Aggies, the win marked the team’s third consecutive Celebration Bowl win and a third consecutive mythical HBCU national championship.
Trailing Alcorn State 3-0 in the second quarter, graduate quarterback Kylil Carter connected with Elijah Bell on a 53-yard touchdown pass at the 13:03 mark to put the Aggies ahead 7-3.
Alcorn State (9-4) answered with a six-play, 72-yard scoring drive that ended with Felix Harper throwing a 36-yard touchdown pass to Chris Blair which gave the Braves a 10-7 lead with 10:16 left in the quarter.
The lead didn’t last long. The Aggies scored 17 unanswered points that included a 59-yard touchdown pass from Carter to Zachary Leslie, a Noel Ruiz 26-yard field goal and a four-yard touchdown pass from Carter to Kory Banks. The Aggies lead the Braves 24-10 at the half.
With the first possession to begin the second half, the Aggies managed to extend their lead on the first play from scrimmage when Jah-Maine Martin scored on a 75-yard touchdown run to make the score 31-10.
At that point, both teams managed to score on drives through the air. The Braves answered with a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive that made the score 31-17 before the Aggies scored again on a four-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 43-yard touchdown pass from Carter to Ron Hunt at the 10:06 mark in the third quarter.
Both teams combined accounted for 49 points in the third quarter, making it the highest-scoring quarter in Celebration Bowl history.
Scoring for the quarter ended with a 73-yard touchdown pass from Carter to Banks giving the Aggies a 52-31 lead over the Braves.
The Braves managed to score 13 points in the final quarter, but A&T took advantage of a botched snap on a failed PAT that resulted in a 2-point conversation with 4:36 left in the game to make the score 57-44.
Martin scored the game’s final touchdown on a 4-yard run with 3:37 left on the clock.
Carter was named the Celebration Bowl’s Offensive MVP with 364 passing yards and six touchdown passes. He also had 96 yards rushing. Jacob Roberts was the game’s Defensive MVP with six tackles and one interception.